TAFTA ? Why are the Europeans so firmly against it ? RGBH could be the clue

Disclaimers,
1st
with the recent political development, I dont  know yet how the negotiations are going to evolve. Still, this article may be of some interest to pinpoint both European’s attitude towards meat production and RBHG.
2nd
This article is going to be loaded of acronyms; The most important ones being RGBH (bovine stromatopine), TAFTA and CETA.

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BST, RBGHor is a growth hormone which increases the ‘milk yield of lactating cows’ by preventing mamamary cell death. Developed by Monsanto under the name Posilac, in 2008, the decided to give it up and sold it to Eli Lily.
RBGH stimulates cows’ appetites, facilitating both weight growth and milk production. In general, it is estimated that injecting RBGH will result on a 10-15% milk production increase.

BST is still controversial. While its advocates argue it has numerously environmental and economic benefits, some argue it can lead to major health hazards.

To be totally balanced and fair on the issue, here is a quick description of each side argument.

Environmental Protection
It limits the world cattle population thus decreasing the strains on environmental resources. An estimate is that is allows saving more than 6.6 billion gallons of water, and 5.5 of gazoline. It also reduces by 417 sue miles the land needed for farming.

Economical reasons
RBGH increases lactacrary cows productivity which helps stabilizing the milk price.
A 2010 study by the NYT demonstrated consumers had little concerned about RBGH free ingredients. Low price, brands and containers were the major factors influencing milk purchase decision. There is therefore little demand for

Interestingly, this division has a geographical and international significance. In the US, RBHG has been hailed for its suppository benefits, whereas the EU banned it in 1988.  It has then been a major source of tension between the US and Europe. WTO judged the ban violated laws of international trade but that it was consistent with WTO Rules of precautionary principle and responsibilities. Since 1999, the situation was in a sort of deadlock, the EU accepting to gradually increase US rbgh free meat quotas, but staying adamant on the hormone treated meat ban.

2 weeks ago, The European union signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada triggering a wave of criticisms and protests. Granted, Europeans can be considered as being slightly less liberals than North American fellows, still such a wave of disapproval could be surprising.
Europeans are afraid CETA will have major consequences on their everyday life particularly on their food consumption choices.

Where do those fear come from ?

There are multiple possible reasons explaining   for Europeans ( especially French) positions.

The first one is economic : European farmers are afraid the market will be overwhelmed by Canadian and American meat.  Due to less stringent regulations, those latter two are able to produce cheaper meat.  Plus, This rise of offer in a relatively stagnant market will certainly lead to  massive price decrease. This is a source of concern for European governments as agriculture has largely been subsidized by both States and the EU through mechanisms such as  PAC . Would price of meat decrease, farmers would certainly be more dependent of those aids, A PAC expansion would certainly be required, in  an already severely budget-constrained EU.

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The second reason is political.  Right now, the EU is confronted to growing EUropceptisim and the surge of Far Right/ Nationalist movements. Some fear signing such a treaty with recursing to national governments and parliaments would give credit to the europhobics claim. In fact those could argue, the EU is just a big apparatus, devoid of any direct legitimacy ( as it is not directly elected by European citizens) infringing upon national sovereignty.

Finally, several cultural reasons can be found. France has been adverse to any type of hormonal injection or ingurgitation since the 1997 growth hormone scandal ( this has no real link with rbgh but I can’t help thinking people will make connections between it).  Also, The precautionary principle has been a strong rule in France since 1997 and the Loi Bannier. French often find it  Better to wait and see the possible environmental  and health consequences an innovation can have rather than jumping in the novelty and innovation bandwagon.

 

Aurore Gugliemi

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